Photography is one of those hobbies/businesses that you could get into pretty quickly without much experience. You can pick up a good DSLR nowadays for around $1,000 and a good lens for about $500 and off you go.
The learning curve for shooting in manual mode or getting good exposure isn't too steep given enough practice.
But, getting the shots you want, consistently can be very difficult. Each lens reacts differently, each camera works differently and you can never predict the lighting you'll have on any given day.
So that is the hard part. Working with available light, composing a good photo and doing so with confidence and fluidity.
So I've compiled a list of many of the things a good photographer are aware of before they press the shutter:
1) Checking for main light source (angle and strength)
2) Checking secondary light source ( natural reflectors, sky, building, ground, looking for angle, strength and color)
3) Looking for shade (what is its relation to the main light source, is it too dark, odd colors?)
4) Portrait or landscape photo (can I do both in the same location or will I need multiple locations)
5) Color of background (will it work with their outfit, is it too light or too dark, is it boring?)
6) Background setting (does it play a part in the photo, or is it distracting? Variety is always good)
7) Foreground (does it work with the background or there too much contrast? To include or not include?
8) Double check your camera settings (Is your ISO set correctly or is it still at 1000 from yesterdays wedding)
9) Check your light meter (make sure the scene and/or subject isn't too dark or too bright
10) Composition (will this be a print or a canvas or a two page spread?)
11) Are their catch-lights in the subjects eyes? (did you find the secondary light source correctly?)
12) Focus on the eyes (make sure the focus point is on the eyes, double check)
13) Using the right lens? (is the space smaller or bigger than you expected? Need something wider or longer?)
14) Have enough fill light? (too much shade or too bright out there? Have a way to add light?)
15) Checking the horizon line (is the camera level or unbalanced?)
These are only 15 things we are always aware of when taking a photo, but there are many more technical ones that I wont' get into. But, its not easy to put all these things together in a matter of minutes to produce a successful photo session.
If you are a photographer and would like to add to the list feel free.
If you are a potential client and have any questions please feel free to comment.
Thanks and I hope I gave you some insight!